Hello – we are the Voorhees and Davidson families and just like many of you, we have high hopes and dreams for the education and discipleship of our kids.  

As we have been doing life together and searching for the best way to educate our children, we stumbled across Acton Academy, a school launched by Laura and Jeff Sandefer in Austin, Texas, and read Laura’s book, Courage to Grow.

Laura and Jeff’s words spoke to our dreams for our families in a profound and unique way that resonated deeply with our Christian worldview. And we’re not the only ones: Their school in Austin has spawned over 160 other affiliates across the globe, but sadly none in Colorado.

Their approach to education is unique. It’s exciting. And it has achieved for many other children the three big things we want for our own kids.

When we saw that, we knew we had to start an Acton Academy affiliate in our community, and we embarked on that journey in May of 2018.

Journey Academy will launch in the fall of 2019 with a small group of mixed-age elementary students in one learning studio and a small group of middle school students in another learning studio.  We are choosing to start quite small so we can build a strong culture of responsible, curious, and self-governed students that will help lay the foundation for future growth and multiplication. If what you are reading resonates with you, please reach out to us to see if we can link arms on this adventure together.

We are thankful you are here to learn more about Journey Academy, and we hope to get to know you soon! Please come back again and again to this blog to follow us on the grand adventure!

Just look at these smiling faces, twelve amazing kids about to embark on a Hero’s Journey,  These heroes are Journey Academy’s first ever students. This picture was taken at our kick off BBQ, before any of us knew what we were getting into!  Shining eyes full of wonder and hope, they are the inspiration for all the blood, sweat, and tears that went into following this dream and accepting the call to adventure.  At this BBQ, we shared the vision with parents and friends, we dreamed together, and we prayed that the Holy Spirit would bless these children and our efforts to raise them up for Him.  And now the work begins!


Wow, fifteen weeks under our belts!  And what a crazy ride it has been for each one of us.  Looking back over this first semester I am overcome with gratitude for so many things.  God was with our little tribe every step of the way – every victorious step and every painful step as well.  We kicked off the year with our ‘Building the Tribe’ learning quest where we spent time getting to know each other and building the systems that would govern us.  The Heroes did a fabulous job of creating their Rules of Engagement and Studio Contract. Much like our founding fathers did at the Constitutional Convention, we too had our own convention of sorts where we debated ideas and principles that we all valued and eventually voted on the documents that govern us.  We then moved onto a very exciting Physics Learning Quest that issued a building challenge each week to our Heroes and culminated in a trip down to Albuquerque to participate in the Balloon Festival. What better way to learn about air pressure, displacement, buoyancy, lift, drag, mass, and gravity than to watch in wonder as hundreds of balloons take off at sunrise.  Wrapping up the semester some of our Heroes took a hunting trip and came home with enough elk to last all winter! And now we rest for Christmas break to evaluate what went well and what needs improvement in our tribe of learners. With grateful hearts we close out this year and look ahead to what God has in the next!

This start of this school year brought growth from a tribe of 12 heroes to a tribe of 19!  Onboarding 7 new students has not been without its challenges but we welcome them as we know that failure is progress for those who desire to grow. We have struggled to meet the needs of our littlest learners while we try to understand the concept of a Sparks Studio as many other Actons refer to it.  And at the same time we are empowering our eight middle and highschoolers to create a learning environment that they can all thrive in.  

A couple years ago Laura Sandefer, the founder of Acton Academy,  wrote a book called Courage to Grow. I read it over a year ago, months before we started the school year.  Yet in this season of taking on new Heroes, I have been drawn back to the inspiring lessons found in the book when I fear we may lack the courage to grow ourselves. And yet I find myself inspired once again on this call to adventure we received from the Lord to start this school.  It seems every day we see the beauty and genius of our heroes increasing and we stand in wonder at the transformation.  

Each morning we start our day with a launch discussion, usually related to some aspect of social, emotional learning.  These are the lessons we all need to have healthy families, friendships, and marriages and we are so grateful our kids are learning them at such a young age.   Concepts include walking in the Four Agreements with one another, staying out of the Drama Triangle when conflict arises, building a level 5 tribal culture rather than settling for a level 2 or 3, and accepting feedback from peers as an act of love and respect.  Countless inspiring conversations have happened around our launch circle, what an honor to watch these heroes begin to soar! 

I am so glad you asked, why don’t we let the Heroes tell you? Watch this video to learn…

Starting in middle school, apprenticeships are a vital part of the learning experience at Journey Academy. Watch this video to learn more:

Our school is built largely around the metaphor of the Hero’s Journey, which is a framework to evaluate any great story. Here are the steps on that journey:

The Hero's Journey by Joseph Campbell - USC Viterbi | Prospective ...

We are always encouraging our Hero’s to learn to interview others to learn about their Hero’s Journey and to learn to tell of their own. Watch Jackson do his first Hero’s Journey interview!

In January our middle and high school Heroes began daily civilizations discussions. Our focus was on modern world history so we discussed events starting with World War 1 and moving all the way through the 20th century. Each hero was given an event in history and a few moral dilemma questions surrounding that event. They were to invest 30 minutes to a hour researching the event then come to the discussion prepared to defend their position on the moral dilemma. In the beginning, I as the guide would lead the discussions but soon the Heroes took over the discussion leader role and they would evaluate one another’s discussion leading skills so that they could grow in that area. I am so very proud of how hard they worked in this area. Civilizations discussions add up to badges earned, which then translate into history credits on a high school transcript. We recorded a few of the discussions so I will post those videos below. Civilizations discussions are a fabulous way to make history come alive and engage learners in the process of critical thinking and argumentation – something sorely lacking in society today!

At Journey Academy we are always seeking to inspire our learners towards heroic behavior so we refer to all our students as ‘Heroes’. We started the 2019 school year with 12 heroes and ended the year with 21 heroes. Now we are looking at an enrollment of 40 or so for the 2020 school year. It is such a privilege to empower our learners to take charge of their own education. Watch the fun video and get to know some of our heroes 😉

Writing is an important life skill for every young person. How does Journey Academy teach writing? Listen to a few Acton learners explain the system we use to help equip our learners to write well: